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tv   The Stream 2017 Ep 187  Al Jazeera  November 23, 2017 7:32am-8:01am +03

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former vice president and the someone got to address thousands of supporters in the capital harare he returned from south africa a day after robert mugabe resigned. the u.s. secretary of state has issued his strongest condemnation yet of million miles treatment of the ranger calling it ethnic cleansing rex tillerson threatening sanctions for those responsible for what he calls her renders atrocities in northern rakhine state the former bosnian serb military chief has been sentenced to life in prison he was convicted of the massacre of eight thousand muslim men and boys a tribe in one thousand nine hundred five during the bosnian war that it was found guilty on ten charges of genocide war crimes and crimes against humanity. the saudi led coalition says it will reopen yemen's main airport and the vital seaport of the data to let in humanitarian aid ports were closed to weeks ago after who the rebels fatah missile towards the saudi capital riyadh yemen struggling to deal with a famine and the world's worst cholera outbreak leading palestinian political
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factions including hamas and fatah have agreed to hold elections by the end of next year the group's made the joint statement following reconciliation talks in cairo last month house agreed to cede powers in gaza to the palestinian authority. well those were the headlines the news continues on al-jazeera after the stream of. africa going through seismic changes country stands out because it's considered so successful why is the. president of ghana. talked awhile just. for me ok and your in the stream today is the trumpet ministration trying to turn protesting into a crime some civil rights activist thinks so and they are fighting to stop it.
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the child of six people accused of felony rioting during u.s. president donald trump's inauguration is on the way in washington d.c. the case could determine whether the government continues pursuing charges against the roughly two hundred people it says also participated in protests organized by disrupt jay twenty that's an anti capitalist and anti fascist group but civil rights activists say the case could have some bigger implications ones that threaten the first amendment to the u.s. constitution which guarantees the right to free speech here to talk about race in our studio we have scott michelman he's a senior staff attorney with the american civil liberties union and the a.c.l.u. is representing several of the defendants in the case also in the studio is with largish she's one of the twenty defendants whose trial is scheduled for next year
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joining via skype from baltimore maryland bernard woods he's this senior reporter for the real news network he covered the g twenty protests and has been covering the trial as well it's good to have you here everybody welcome. i've been one of your. website document shows washington d.c. police three more than seventy i don't know gratian protest as i'm trying to get a sense of what it was like on general twenty s. when you were following along the protests can you describe what you saw what happened yes so i've met up actually with a group who was being arrested right as they were being on trial right now right as they were being cattle which is a controversial technique used by police that cordons people off in mass anyone who was in that area i held up my press pass and and fortunately the officer who was about to hit me with her stick moved past me but a lot of other people weren't so lucky i was able to get out of that group and a huge number of weapons were deployed after they were already arrested so that was
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freedom of information act documents that i got from the police department that showed seventy grenades where you can see in videos and you could see on the ground there that they were just hurling these indiscriminately at people in the picture you show it's blowing up on a man's head wearing a red hat they claim that everyone involved in this protest was conspiring by wearing black and yet they were deploying weapons at people regardless of what they were wearing and for many hours after those people had had been arrested and so it was a situation that really took part in two different waves when they first cordoned off the black bloc the group of people who were moving sort of in mass in a march and then people who came to protest again against the detention of the massed attention of two hundred thirty five people that day for hours out in the cold at a corner surrounded by police let me show our audience what it was like a patience perspective he says but he can sort of have
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a look at them listen. ok. elizabeth you were that day what can you tell us because you were swept up in that police action managing the crowds. and arrested what can you tell us about that day yeah i mean ironically since i was there you know speaking about my political feelings i actually can't talk much about what happened that day prior to my arrest because of the way or legal system works and you know the anything you say can and
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will be used against our so so what can you tell us yeah i can tell you that i went to d.c. i had was living in baltimore at the time in order to protest so i was really concerned about you know the administration and. you know it's a time honored thing to go and protest and i have protested for things i care about in the past and it's it's a thing that we do in america. and i went there to do that and i got swept up in this and before i knew it. here i am scott what's going on. what's going on here is a massive overreaction on the part of law enforcement really from start to finish from the january twentieth arrests and pepper spraying itself where the police reacted to a few acts of vandalism with a massive round up of mostly peaceful protesters regardless of whether folks were
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individually breaking a law to the subsequent prosecutions of more than two hundred people for so-called rioting even though again the government did not have evidence does not we believe the evidence against most of these people as far as we know what they're using mostly is this theory of guilt by association this idea that if you are on the street that day you may have been dressed like somebody who was breaking a window you may have had the same views as that person therefore you must have engaged in a conspiracy to riot and now you're facing sixty years in jail that's crazy obviously by that the government and the government the prosecution in this case has admitted that in court they're proceeding without evidence that most defendants physically participated in any form of violence. but what you can say that well we don't see that same standard applied in other cases so in charlottesville where they are right the nazis in the fascist gathered and we have evidence from this
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court a social media log that they were conspiring and they were planning and they were joking about running people over and then we saw how their hair run over by one of the members of vanguard america we don't see that same kind of thing and it's almost unthinkable to imagine that they would bring charges against everyone wearing khaki pants and pull up polo shirt and i believe that the one reason that i wasn't arrested that day when i was in the area was that i happened it was raining and so i had just got this bright green raincoat and it's insane that we have a legal system that. i would charge people simply based on what they're wearing and even more than that even worse than that the police violence was directed against people who were not even wearing black so for instance one of our clients in the civil lawsuit and we've sued the police over their actions that day elizabeth is one of our clients another one due to ariel was wearing a green hat now many legal observers wear green hats in order to distinguish
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themselves from other people who may be there supporting whatever causes and he was pepper sprayed with his green hat on other people who were not even there protesting who might have been observing my didn't dress differently so the police were really out of control on that day so you know this sounds bizarre like i was going to bring a jacket i was wearing a green hat the place where i was looking for me oh no this sounds weird scott well well it sounds weird to me because it turns out they were looking for everybody right and so that's what happens when you have this this attitude that the police are going to go out and they're going to clear the streets they're going to shut it down they're going to really crack down on everyone and the message that it sends is one of chilling and what i mean by that is that people now after this day when they think of protesting in the nation's capital they're going to think about this day they're going to think about what happened there think about the pepper spray they're going to think about the indiscriminate arrests and they're going to think about the prosecutions that folks like elizabeth have endured and are enduring and
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then i think you know what if you stay home today maybe i will raise my voice i've looked at all of the video and i'm going to show it without audience as what i was wondering what was it that the police department were thinking as they were trying to manage this crowd and they said in a statement the men and women of the n.p.t. protect the rights of the safety of thousands of first amendment assemblies that the talk about inauguration day there's another group of individuals who chose to engage in criminal acts destroying property hurting projectiles injuring at least six offices is this a defense for what happened. well i think the trouble with the statement there is that group they their idea is this was a whole big group of people and they were all moving together acting together they had to go after this whole group as was their mentality and the prosecution's mentality now as well when in fact it's the police's job if someone breaks
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a window and that violates the law they need to figure out who did that guilt in our system is individual it's not association and so what the police did when they decided they just to round up everyone on the street was unconstitutional and it violated the rights of the peaceful protesters who were there just to speak their mind speak out against the trumpet ministration we just play a little clip this is my team ask us he was in the crowd that day he was trying to report his story. and then the police charge towards the crowd may seem just everybody across their way even in my review where the police where a protester if you were a journalist you were amazed taken down and arrested in the middle of all that my eyes my phrase my throat begin to burn tears started running down my eyes i mean me i didn't see it coming. but somebody help me out of the. and i can
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recover after a while and then continue taking photos. it sounds like it was it got a little out of hand more than a little how to have any i'm going to show you this new this video and you can tell me what you think as you see it this is from democracy in crisis video sting and pepper spray these are some of the instruments the police were using for crowd control have a look. at the. back of. the ok. ok thank you ok. the the. the o.l. the and the. this is when you see that what are you thinking as you're all right as
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a protest what does that do i am thinking about what it's like to sit in the courtroom and listen to the police talk about how they reacted on that day. and it's really striking when you watch the videos. that the a lot of the chaos you see a lot of the things that feel like violence to the viewer are really being caused by the police the police really seem to have escalated the situation. and. you know it's it's really unfortunate because those are the people who are supposed to be. at a higher level of responsibility who we expect more from and to be clear all of that footage was after elizabeth had already been detained so the people who were were detained by the police all of that weaponry was was thrown after that had already happened so this is this is something that they're not talking about that there really was a police riot that day and that the police really were out of control and i believe
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that they were inspired to act that way by the election of donald trump who said he was going to be telephone protesters who said he was going to be tough on crime and in his famous speech to police officers in long island where he said they should be rough with prisoners he said on my first day i said you could use military equipment and stuff and it's unclear if that's what he's referring to is this first day you can be a little fast and loose with the facts but i believe that is what he is referring to then that he was authorizing them to use this kind of or at least encouraging them to use this kind of weaponry that. scott alexander read russ's him on twitter . is that they could show child of the century that's no justice no peace that's a little bit of hyperbole here but intends if you will rights to saying what you want to say even if it's unappealing to whatever administration is this what is potentially at risk happy things cases salut lee and i think it's it's not hyperbole to say that this is one of the trials of the greatest constitutional
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magnitude we've seen certainly in many years when it comes to the right to protest the right peacefully to protest and whether police are going to get away with this sort of mass round up that we saw here and essentially intimidate people into silence i mean i've heard from from many people tell me they're not as active in protest they're not as likely to go they're not as likely to want to stick out and they're scared because of what happened to them that day people are traumatized by this because when the police were there as as you heard journalist say they were they were indiscriminate and so just being there put folks at risk and that's a dangerous thing if the first amendment is going to survive in this country. shots important to have. it's important to note too that there are two journalists who are still facing charges in this case and i don't want to put journalist above
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everyone else's first amendment rights but both of them aaron kahn two and of the scent of a reporter i spoke to his editor recently and she said she makes him wear a tie and a jacket now when he goes out to protest a may not send him to a protest while he's facing these charges and alexei would told me last week that it took him until may before he would go and cover another protest and that was his and then he finally just said he was he was not going to be silenced and that he was going to do it but it's these people's livelihood that they're then more reluctant to be engaged in and again it was just hit or miss if you were reporter whether you were arrested and detained or not and we were all pepper spray. you know that they deployed over one hundred canisters of pepper spray that day i found out also through freedom of information act and it was all through the air and so forth you got. yes i will and i did i went out to protest against the travel ban restrictions. right after this happened but the
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problem is that i am worried basically when i go to protest and i am thinking in the back of my head is this going to be a problem is there going to be some kind of misunderstanding and i don't want to draw attention to myself i don't hold as sassy of a sign as i might otherwise remember until it has been time to time down the signage from what so well i mean i can't think of one of them i had but yeah i mean i yeah i mean you're laughing here but that's your life is changed quite dramatically and these cases are really turning on sask for own intents and purposes a lot of the stuff that's being litigated is did this person say this thing did they mean it this way did they wear this very fine distinctions that make it really hard to know what you can do and what you can and that's and that's in such striking contrast to things so important about that point is it's it's such striking contrast to what the supreme court has said about the first amendment the
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freedom of speech and in america the supreme court has said that the first amendment needs breathing space to survive that means if you if you channel the first amendment within very narrow boundaries and outside of that speakers are are very quickly stopped or kettles or pepper sprayed or prosecuted then what you're doing is you're going to make people scared even to go up to that line you're going to make them shut down you're going to make them tone down their messages and the the whole premise of the first amendment in this country is that your message can be whatever it want it you want it to be and it has to be whatever you want it to be if we're going to be a free place where people can express themselves people can speak truth to power dissent from from troubling actions of the government and really make change i'm looking. in hand this is from the a.c.l.u. site at the number of states that have tried to introduce laws that would actually tell what you can do as
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a protest either way you can protest what you can where when you're protesting what is this telling you scott even if the laws don't go through they're not past what are we looking at in the united states right now i think i think it goes back to the point about what trump has facilitated what he's encouraged the type of attitude that he is trying to instill in this country is one that's very contrary to our tradition of the rule of law of constitutional values downtime was made clear he doesn't respect the first amendment he doesn't care about it he thinks people who disagree with him should be silenced or should be sued he has stated a willingness to suppress media organizations he has his white house has cut off access to journalists who disagree with him and that's just on the first amendment i mean i could go on the fourth kid equal protection i can you show you in the amendments and so but it's important to recognize that this is
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a dramatic departure from the type of culture that that i think in this country we've been trying to build not always with with perfect success but but trying to build over the centuries where you have a rule of law where everyone gets treated fairly where people can speak their mind and the trend has been as president obama used to say that the arc of the universe is long but bends toward justice it it has been going in the right direction. we've seen such steps backward in the last year under president and before that under the influence of candidate trump against our first and values and that's a very scary thing let me tell you a little comment from chip this is chip gets his policy and much stiffly count so. i haven't we had to say. presenter oral arguments on monday and what struck me the most was that the prosecution came straight out so that they have no evidence linking any of the six defendants which included journalists into medics to any
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property damage and that their entire theory is that probably for a minute first america march is a premeditated right and that anybody who participated in it can go to jail for decades on felony charges this is why i think criminalization dissent given that they're trying to journalists is a blanket commiseration of journalism and is deeply threatening to our first amendment freedoms when at the impact the fallout from this is pretty shocking potentially when you covered this protest at the beginning did you have any sense that this was before how it would. pact eventually it seemed like i mean i'm still surprised that they're prosecuting it with the force that they are and that they have evidence from so many cell phones so it's a case with more evidence than almost any case that that i can think of and i am surprised that they've continued to go forward with it with the conspiracy charges so after the arrests that day they went and raided the home of someone that they
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believed had planned part of a protest and they took things like the nation magazine from his home and it's going down. in these times magazine as evidence of a criminal conspiracy to plan a protest and that's where i'm really shocked i've seen in baltimore and other places police get hot headed and be outrageous on the ground and arrest people but that they're carrying those charges out through court at great expense to the people of the district of columbia at this time i really am shocked by that scott with these fast complications that started this week is it possible that that however they might end up may mean that the hundred and so on the. defendants might actually have to construct against and i mean these first couple so critical i think it is very important because what what we'll see what the prosecution is now seeing tested is their theory this guilt by association theory this theory that
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entire protest is is a riot because of the actions of of a small group and if the jury doesn't buy it then they're going to start to wonder should we prosecute the other one hundred ninety people and they should wonder because this is not the type of of activity we're used to seeing prosecuted in this country and it shouldn't be so i'm i'm hopeful that the jury will send a strong message to the prosecution and say you know this isn't how we do things here let's have you also want to. on a saint. against the police with the a.c.l.u. is the most trouble you've ever found yourself thing. it is quite literally although that's not saying much because at the point i got arrested i had not even had a parking ticket on my record for eight years and so. yeah it's
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a new world and. you feeling comfortable and confident terrified or you can pick another adjective i don't like it doesn't have to be a binary i i think i alternate between being a bit terrified and just being angry because it just seems so arbitrary and it it's it's so insane that sometimes just the disbelief overwhelms everything else a couple comments of people when watching this live on you tube robertson says protesting is part of the bedrock of democracy which kind of speaks to what you thought you were able to do in january and then one more life from the cheap this is coming in from nicholas u.s. citizens have the incredible right to protest in the streets they should all take advantage scott knowing what you know now what would you tell someone who wants to go out and protest in the states. i would i would tell them to to think hard but to go do it anyway because we need your voices we need your voices if for no other
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reason than to protest the criminalization of protests and so although the first amendment is not supposed to be just for the courageous. that is sort of what it's become here and people should be courageous people should be courageous in these times but people should also be aware of their surroundings. be. ready to flee police violence if necessary but but nonetheless speak out because this is a critical time in our democracy and we need people to raise their voice when they see their constitutional freedoms being eroded. in the last thirty seconds of our show how do you go about covering protests now. about the same as i did but i watch out a little bit more i saw a lot of that here in baltimore and i'd like to call out my fellow journalists like in the white house press corps they're not talking about this at all and everyone is waiting for to do this big thing against the press and. to the new york times
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but people are recognizing this grave threat to the first amendment with the prosecution of reporters all right so thank you. for being in our conversation it's queer how we have to bust such a big topic to talk about and in the next pot when we talk about what happens when it's positive just want to check out what facebook all social media accounts will be back on the next episode of the strain.
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kingfish indulge your five senses. witness documentaries that open your eyes at this time on al-jazeera. december on al-jazeera we look back at twenty seventeen through the eyes of five families who've been affected by some of the big stories of the year in an increasingly polarized world people in power sheds light on the darkest abuses of authority ten days of comprehensive coverage about nuclear arsenals around the globe and the impact they have on the diplomatic stage a special program dedicated to this year's nobel peace prize laureates i can and their pursuit of a nuclear weapon free world and we look ahead to the big stories that could dominate the headlines in twenty eighteen. december on al-jazeera.
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right. we will not be pressured i want to be very clear about this.


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